We combat food insecurity in Northern Canada
Northern communities pay on average 4 times more for everyday food. With temperatures averaging below -30°C, produce is nearly impossible to grow outdoors. This leaves only inefficient and costly methods of transporting produce into this part of our country. In Nunavut 35.1% of the population lives in severe food insecurity. Growing North’s original and primary focus is to alleviate food insecurity within Northern Canadian communities by improving the accessibility to food.
How do we do it?
From the construction of a geodesic greenhouse in the community Naujaat, Nunavut we strive to offer low cost, locally grown produce to the community. Due to the climate and infertile land in Nunavut, a greenhouse with hydroponic towers, vertical growing techniques, and overall shape has been able to withstand the colder climate. The greenhouse has been provided by Growing Spaces, which has a polycarbonate exterior, solar powered air system, that is able to maintain temperatures 30 degrees warmer, relative to the outside climate, entirely from sunlight.
By working with the local community we ensure that the needs of the community are met. We make sure that the greenhouse is integrated into the community through participation, partnering with local organizations, and including the operations of the Arctic team. Growing North is continuously adapting to the social and economic needs of its community while maintaining the environment. We have started initiatives such as the Women's Collective, where local women come to gather to sew traditional goods and cook to sell to the community. The profits are returned to the women, supporting entreprenuerial leadership.
Growing North focuses on long term sustainability through our work by ensuring social, environmental, and economic in our efforts and methods for the community. Sustainable operations include collaborating with the community by including the locals, school board, and privatized businesses in providing locally grown food to the community. The development of "green jobs", working with the community and a multi-pronged approach in our operations has contributed to the overall sustainability of the project. We strive to bring sustainable and fresh, locally grown produce to the community.
Growing North believes that having access to safe, nutritious food is a human right. We use the 5 A's of food security in everything we do-Availability, Accessibility, Adequacy, Acceptability, and Agency. Not only does the construction of a greenhouse offer fresh, local fruits and vegetables, but making the greenhouse and food accessible and adequate to the community is what we have established. Our harvest makes fresh produce available all year round, while offering acceptable, culturally appropriate options to the public.
With 63% of the community being under the age of 18 years old, a co-op program based on education intertwined with the greenhouse has been implemented for the community. By partnering with the local high school, students are able to gain course credit from volunteering in the greenhouse, along with a supplementary curriculum on horticulture, environment, and nutrition. Engaging students in the greenhouse project not only improves their chances of graduating but empowers them. Also, workshops and seminars are given to young mothers on health.
From working with greenhouse experts and the local community has ensured operational, and long term success. We thank our partners for their continued support in helping Growing North expanding, offering resources, and more to the success of our project. From collaborating with a variety of different stakeholders, Growing North has managed to offer the communities that we work with different resources. Thanks to our partners Ryerson University, Social Venture Zones, Bright Agrotech, Enactus, RBC, Repulse Bay Health Centre,3M, and more for their generous support.
Food insecurity isn't just a Northern issue, it's a Canadian issue.